Swift gets a ‘RED’o

Taylor Swift remakes 2012 album, Red.


Taylor Swift. 

From starting out as a country artist in the early 2000s to currently releasing two indie-style albums, she’s one of the biggest pop stars in the world. 

However, having a name that big also usually comes with controversy, which Swift is not unaccustomed to. From remarks about her love life to the Kanye West VMA drama, she’s had to face a lot of criticism from the media and people around her. 

However, one of her more recent controversies started in 2019 when Scooter Braun—a manager for other big artists like Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber—allegedly bought all of her music without her consent. Since then, Swift has tried everything she can to negotiate with him and her old manager Scott Borchetta to buy her music back, but has been unsuccessful. So, in November 2020, she decided to re-record all of her albums so that she owned her own work. Fearless (Taylor’s Version) came out in April and RED (Taylor’s Version) was released November 12th, and despite not being a brand new album, it is still a body of work you should definitely take a listen to. It includes nine new vault tracks, which are songs that she pushed aside when first recording the album but decided to release on the rerecording; it supports her in her movement to own her own creations, and the album is also filled with more modern production and a more mature voice from Swift. 

One of the first reasons you should consider listening to the rerecording is because of the new vault tracks released on the album. There are nine of them, and have features from current artists including Chris Stapleton and Phoebe Bridgers, which make the songs even more exciting because you’re not only getting a new song from Taylor but also another artist that you might love. Some of the artists end up only singing the background, but it still gives the song a nice touch, making it feel like the song is an actually completely new song. Some of the vault tracks are also songs that she has released before, only with a twist to them. For example, All Too Well, a song said to be her best by countless fans, was released on the original album but also on the vault tracks as the 10 minute version, which Swifties have been wishing to happen for years. It might seem like that is way too long for a song, but All Too Well is a masterpiece filled with poetic lyricism and deep emotion that seemingly compresses 10 minutes into 4. You’re instantly sucked right into the song and unable to stop listening. Along with the song, Swift released an All Too Well short film featuring the popular actor and actress Dylan O’Brien and Sadie Sink. Just like the song, the film is also encapsulated with feeling and perfect acting, taking you on a wild ride as you follow the story. The vault tracks also include songs that have been released before but weren’t sung by Taylor, only written by her and then sold to other artists. Better Man, a song which helped boost the country band Little Big Town up the charts, was released on the vault tracks. Also Babe which featured Taylor as a background singer in the version released by Sugarland, was also included in the 9. Those versions of the songs are good too, but it’s nice to hear what Taylor originally saw for the song and what her own touch to it would be. She’s an amazing lyricist and captivator of emotion and this clearly shines through on the vault tracks. 

The second reason you should listen to RED (Taylor’s Version) is because it supports Swift in her passion to help artists own their own music. When Scott Borchetta sold Swift’s music to Scooter Braun, she claims it was done so without her consent and that she was never even offered to buy her own music, starting up a movement about how she wanted to fight for artists being allowed to own their own work. Countless artists in the music industry don’t own their own music and huge names like Prince, The Beatles and Lil Kim have also fought for years to own their catalog. When artists sign a record deal, they’re usually giving away the rights to their music, but they should at least have the option to buy it back when they choose to leave the label or when, like in Taylor’s case, their music is considered being sold. It’s like drawing something that gets into an art show, and because it’s now under the care of the people running the art show, they’re allowed to tear it up or sell it or do whatever they want with it even though it was your work. Even though you created it you have no right to it. Additionally, a lot of artists use music as their way of expression and communication to the world, and having that personal part of themselves stripped away can be heartbreaking. You spent all this time putting yourself into a song and now it’s being treated like it’s nothing. Artists put time and work into their music; they should be able to own it. Taylor’s re-recordings are a symbol of that. She shouldn’t have to re-record her whole entire catalog, however, she has to because she doesn’t own her original work. Now she has to spend more time making music that she already created when she could be creating brand new albums. By taking a listen to RED (Taylor’s Version) you’re supporting this message and encouraging her to release more rerecordings so she has rights over her own music. 

The last reason you should go on whatever streaming service you use and turn on RED is that despite the album having a lot of songs most of us have already heard before, the quality and vocals are still top-notch and hit as hard as the originals. When Taylor first recorded RED she was 22 years old and now she’s nearly 32. That’s a ten-year difference, and having released five albums during that time, you can expect that her voice has grown and matured over the years. It’s slightly deeper and more steady, and doesn’t get as pitchy in some places. You can also very obviously tell the changes in the instruments. Even at the beginning of State of Grace, the first song on the album, you can hear the difference in the drums and how much cleaner and more expensive they sound. The beats are more defined. And when the guitar comes in it sounds way more upfront instead of dulled down like it does in the original. Also in 22, the strums in the acoustic guitar are louder and crisper, and the beat comes in hard. And she has these slight background vocals that help support the song. On the other hand, a similarity between the two albums that makes the rerecording even better is the fact that she brought back the artists that she featured on the original album. For example, Gary Lightbody, the lead singer of Snow Patrol, sings on The Last Time in both the original and the rerecording. Taylor also seems like she’s a part of the song while on the original she seemed more in the background. The guitar under her voice is also more distinct. Ed Sheeran is also back on Everything Has Changed as well as one of the vault tracks, Run. Everything Has Changed also has a cleaner beat and guitar, and their voices mix together better. Overall, the new Red has better production and vocals and flows smoother than the original. 

In conclusion, even if you are a passionate Taylor Swift hater, I promise you that if you listen to RED (Taylor’s Version) you’ll end up liking at least a few songs. She’s improved a lot in the way she sings and makes music, she includes new music that is just as good as the current songs, and she’s releasing the album for an important cause. There’s a reason why she’s number two on Billboard.